Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has come out in defence of the appointment of Zolani Matthews as the new group CEO of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa.

Mbalula took time to throw his support behind the new appointee while addressing the media in Langa at the launch of a community initiative to involve the public in protecting rail assets today.

During the address, Mbalula set out plans to restore the central line in Cape Town. The line which carried thousands of Cape Town commuters has been out of service for months as the affected communities pay the price for years of poor maintenance, maladministration and vandalism.

The community project will see 5000 people from local communities across the country volunteer at stations hand in hand with SAPS and security agencies to safeguard the rail infrastructure.

As reported by SABC News, Mbalula’s comments in defence of Matthews came as GroundUp called into question the newly appointed Prasa CEO’s appointment based on his age.

GroundUp has claimed that Zolani Matthews, who is 64, is older than the Prasa retirement age, and therefore his appointment should not have happened.

However, the PRASA board has disputed this fact claiming that no amendments have been made to the Prasa HR policy. The board maintains that the appointment is lawful under the current policy.

“The blatant lies peddled in the media, that I approved and signed a certain policy, is devoid of truth and substance. It is a mere fallacy and a figment of the imagination of peddlers of falsehoods.

“Prasa, as a state-owned company, is established to perform public function of rendering rail services to public. It is established in terms of the Legal Succession Act,” said Prasaboard member Smanga Sethene.

According to Sethane, the retirement policy applied to those already employed, not new hires. According to Sethane, there are currently 23 people who are over 63 and in the employ of Prasa.

“The termination policy of Prasa relates to persons who are permanently employed at Prasa, not persons that are not in the employ of Prasa. Termination policy does not supersede the recruitment and selection policy,” Sethane said.

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Presh JM Reporter

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